Winter precipitation combined with holiday shopping and travel to create a mess on area roads Saturday, with treacherous weekend conditions causing fatal accidents and road closures in the Midwest.
Icy weather was expected to continue through the weekend. In Kansas City, the National Weather Service extended a freezing rain advisory until 6 a.m. Sunday. Northern Missouri and northeastern Kansas could expect a wintry mix Sunday night and Monday.
A slow-moving storm system out of Texas coated Kansas, Missouri and other states in ice as it moved through the Plains and Midwest.
The weather has led to at least eight deaths in Texas and six in Kansas, authorities said. In Fort Worth, Texas, a 70-year-old woman whose car was swept away by flash flooding Friday remained missing Saturday.
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“It’s just been a nightmare,” said Kimberly Qualls, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Transportation in Topeka. “We’ve had freezing rain combined with a holiday weekend combined with Black Friday shopping. It’s a weekend where we don’t want to tell people to stay home, because shopping is important for the economy and people are traveling home from the holidays, but freezing rain creates hazardous conditions.
“Ice is just the worst thing that we could ever want for drivers because they can’t see it. And it happens quickly. Sometimes you’re driving and you can’t tell the difference between wet roads and icy roads.”
A wreck in Miami County on Saturday afternoon left one person dead and several others injured, closing U.S. 69 for hours. The cause was under investigation.
Authorities in Kansas blamed icy roads for four Friday traffic deaths near Wichita, adding to two others in the state Thursday. The Kansas Highway Patrol responded to 16 injury accidents across the state over the weekend, including in Johnson, Riley and Franklin counties.
In Missouri, icy roads contributed to four traffic deaths in the 13 counties in west-central Missouri patrolled by Missouri Highway Patrol’s Troop A, including Kansas City.
“We are working numerous crashes,” said Sgt. Collin Stosberg of the Missouri Highway Patrol. “It’s been a deadly weekend. If folks don’t have to go out, they should stay inside.”
Sunday does not promise much relief for the Kansas City area. Although temperatures might rise above freezing in other states as the storms move on, icy conditions are expected to persist here.
“It’s kind of a tricky period for the Kansas City metro area,” said Jared Leighton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill. “The metro area started out below freezing at between 29 and 31 degrees. And I don’t think it will warm up much. Temperatures will remain below freezing on roads and elevated surfaces for the rest of the day.
“If we could just warm up two to three degrees, we could start melting some of this ice, but it’s not certain we will get that high. The roads may seem fine where you are and then you could hit a patch of ice, so be careful.”
Authorities urged drivers to wear seat belts and said slower speeds could reduce accidents, slideoffs and rollovers.